As society becomes increasingly international, more and more people are forming international relationships. This comes with the added risk that, following a divorce, one of the parents will want to return to his or her home country. Also here in the Netherlands, we are dealing with a growing number of relocation cases, often due to people finding a new love in another part of the country.
Relocating with children or child abduction?
Parents are well aware that they will always have ties with each other because of their son or daughter, but they don’t always realise the impact this has on their own lives. A parent may not relocate with the child(ren) without the consent of the other parent who has parental authority. If a parent flouts this requirement, and moves outside of the Netherlands, this is child abduction – a criminal offence. A parent may not even relocate within the Netherlands without consent.
Weighing of interests
When the other parent does not give consent for relocation, one can ask the court for substitute consent. Before establishing consent, the court must weigh up the respective interests when presented with an application for substitute consent.
Whilst the child’s interests are paramount, there are other relevant interests the court needs to take into consideration:
- the main caretaker’s right to and interest in relocating, and his or her freedom to start a new life,
- the necessity for the relocation,
- how well thought-out and well-prepared the relocation is,
- the alternatives offered by the main caretaker and measures to mitigate and/or compensate for the consequences of the relocation for the children and the other parent,
- the sharing of the care duties and the continuity of care,
- the rights of the parent who is left behind and the children to the same contact with each other in their familiar environment,
- the frequency of contact between the children and the parent left behind prior to and following the relocation,
- the age of the children, their opinion, and how settled they are in their environment or whether they are accustomed to relocating,
- the (additional) costs of contact as a result of the relocation, and
- how able the parties are to communicate with and consult each other.
Thus, there there are various factors that can affect whether the main caretaker will obtain substitute consent from a court to relocate. Each case is judged on its own merits.
If you are dealing with relocation issues, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together, we can find a fitting solution.
Marjet Groenleer is an attorney-at-law and associate partner at GMW lawyers in The Hague. She has been active in family law for more than 15 years, focused on on (international) divorces. Marjet is a trained divorce mediator with the vFAS (Dutch Association of Family mediators and lawyers).
Marjet has a particular interest and a profound knowledge of the international aspects of family law. She is an expert in dealing with complex financial and multi-jurisdictional cases of an international family breakdown. Because of her experience and previous jobs, she is familiar with several foreign legal systems. A great number of her clients are expats. She understands the needs of expats working for the various international organisations and companies based in The Netherlands, specifically in the area of The Hague (lsuch as EPO, Estec, OPCW, NATO, the tribunals, ICC, Shell, etc.)
Marjet worked as a lecturer in International Civil Law for several years and at the Court of Appeals in The Hague in the family law sector. Today, she is a deputy judge in the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam. Marjet publishes regularly in professional journals and keeps you informed of the various complex aspects of (international) divorces with her weblogs.